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Thread: Solid vs. Laminate- Durability

  1. #1
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    Oct 2008
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    Default Solid vs. Laminate- Durability

    Hi,

    I've been playing on a Hilo soprano for a few months, and needless to say I'm looking for a better instrument. My local shop has tons of ukuleles, but the ones I'm mostly looking at are the Flea(laminate), Ohana Vita (Solid top), and a Bushman (all solid). They all sound great, but I'm a bit worried about durability. Obviously the Flea is probably the toughest, but I don't know if it's actually an issue. I would probably take my ukulele out now and then, and I don't like keeping it in a case at home. I've read that solids are generally more delicate. Can anyone offer any advice? Aside from that, does anyone have experience with any of these ukuleles to offer an opinion?

    Thanks,
    Alec

  2. #2
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    Feb 2008
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    Default

    search function.

    I like solid wood instruments, but if it has a poly-carbonate back, thats cool too. applause and flea are very good instruments. I would go with the flea or fluke, out of those two, but out of all of them, I would just get a solid wood instrument. I think they sound better, but that is up for debate.

  3. #3
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    Default

    I searched, but I didn't find anything that answered my question. Thanks for the advice though!

  4. #4
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    I have a flea that travels quite a bit. It's a workhorse. I can stand the heat and cold of being left in the car. It's also been banged around a bit. Extremely durable.

    I also have a custom with a solid, soft cedar soundboard and a very thin TruOil finish. It nicks and scratches easily, but sounds great.

    Both have their place. If you need something that's going to get some punishment, the Flea is a good choice. But generally speaking the Bushmans and Ohanas are regarded as fairly sturdy. (I also have a Bushman tenor. It has a very thick coating over solid wood, but it got a small compression crack in the finish after 6 months. That's not to say that's common, just a fact.)

  5. #5
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    People seem to love their fleas and flukes, and from what I've seen and heard they're great instruments. I've been thinking about getting one myself. I have had both solid and laminate instruments and for my money the only major difference is in durability. When it comes to sound quality the variables tend to be more a result of style, and manufacturer than of materials.

    There is no doubt, however that when it comes to taking a beating the laminates can't be beat, and to take it a step further you can't go wrong with a natural matte finish. If you're like me and you bring your main players with you everywhere you go you will appreciate such durability after smacking it into a couple of door jambs and kitchen chairs.
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  6. #6
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    Default

    Any of those will be a lot better than the Hilo. But if you like to leave your ukulele out of the case, I'd say go for the Flea. You can stand it up on a desk! And on the offchance you knock it over (I do all the time), it'll be fine! You'd have to intentionally beat the crap out of it in order to do any real damage. And even with the laminate top, it's about as loud as most solid ukes in the same price range.

  7. #7
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    If you like the look of a Flea or Fluke, they both sound pretty nice and are durable. There have been issues with bridges popping off in past years, but those issues are behind them these days, so it seems.

    Regarding laminated versus solid-wood instruments: Solid-wood ukuleles and guitars, for that matter, are louder than laminated ukes and guitars. Volume is not everything, however, which is why some people really love laminated instruments. Over-all build quality is more of a concern than materials. All of the manufacturers, even at the high-end, have had quality issues from time to time. That is why I recommend buying from a dealer that will help you if there is any issue with your uke.

    Ohana has more solid-wood ukes than Kala or Oscar Schmidt. Kala has more variety over all. Oscar Schmidt out-sells all other manufacturers combined, but most people have never seen their "professional series" ukuleles. Their OU2, OU2e, and OU3 have been a "first uke" for more people than any other ukes made. Their OU-5 and OU-6 ukes are very nice. Their OU-7 (mango) is another very nice instrument.

    Ohana's Vita uke is one you are considering. It is very durable and projects sound very well. Its geared tuners make it easy to keep in tune while you are playing. It sounds more "woody" than the Flukes and Fleas. It also has a more traditional look. It reminds me of a lute and I have always been a big fan of lutes.

    Kala has more ukes with electronics. In those, laminates feedback a lot less and are more dimensionally stable which means they stay in tune better. They handle travel better and high-elevations, too.

    That should give you some things to consider. I hope you find a uke that really fits the bill.
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  8. #8
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    Thanks for the advice. So it looks like I'll stick with a laminate, considering I'm not planning on any actual performances where I'll need the extra volume/projection or anything. So now it's just a choice between the Vita or the Flea. Decisions...
    Last edited by ukulelearp; 06-20-2009 at 08:15 PM.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by alec534 View Post
    Thanks for the advice. So it looks like I'll stick with a laminate, considering I'm not planning on any actual performances where I'll need the extra volume/projection or anything. So now it's just a choice between the Vita or the Flea. Decisions...
    Get the Flea.

    Next question:
    Rosewood fretboard or plastic?

  10. #10
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    A Flea vote all the way from me either with or without the upgrades.

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